Oakland, California, April 9, 2021 — Yesterday the Coalition for Police Accountability, an
Oakland-based public interest organization focused on civilian law enforcement
oversight, announced that it has filed a lawsuit in Alameda County Superior Court
under the California Public Records Act and the California State Constitution to force
the City of Oakland to perform its required public disclosure obligations concerning
governmental records of meetings between City representatives and representatives of the Oakland Police Officers’ Association.
In January 2021, the Coalition requested that the City provide copies of records related
to meet and confer sessions between the City and the Oakland Police Officers’
Association (the “OPOA”). Rather than provide copies of such documents, the City
failed to respond to the Coalition’s request within the legally-allowed time period. A
month later, in March 2021, the City then informed the Coalition it would not be
producing any documents at all. The Coalition was therefore left with no choice but to
pursue a lawsuit to seek disclosure of those important public documents.
According to Rashidah Grinage of the Coalition, “the City’s utter refusal to provide any
documents in response to our request for records is unacceptable. The City has a
terrible reputation when it comes to the public seeking to exercise its right to review
City records, particularly when it comes to the OPOA. We will not allow this to continue,
and we look forward to seeing the City in court.”
In its lawsuit, the Coalition seeks an order requiring the City to produce the requested
documents, and a permanent injunction against the City requiring it to comply fully with
its obligation to produce public documents in the future.
Previous Lawsuit and Settlement Agreement
Note: In 1998 the People United for a Better Oakland, PUEBLO, a non profit fighting for police reform before the Coalition for Police Accountability was formed, joined with the ACLU to challenge the abuse of the “meet and confer” process between the City and the OPOA on matters of policy, rather than limit it to issues within the scope of bargaining. [“The law requires local agencies to genuinely try to reach an agreement with employee organizations prior to making a decision affecting matters within the mandatory scope of bargaining (wages, hours and other terms and conditions of employment).” http://www.ca-ilg.org/sites/main/files/file-attachments/labor_relations_glossary_2013_update.pdf?1491845013]
It has been the contention of PUEBLO, the ACLU, and now CPA-that the city has unnecessarily given up its authority to make policy over the police department through this practice. The 1998 suit against the covert nature of these practices wherein the City and the OPOA discuss changes in police policy [managerial prerogative vs working conditions} in closed sessions was resolved in a settlement by Judge Henry Needham Jr. in 1999.
CPA was not asking for details of the discussion but information on what topics were covered, who was involved, and how many meetings were held during this period. This was the period just prior to the formulation of the latest ballot measure which imposed additional accountability requirements-Measure S1- was brought back to the City Council and then offered to the pubic.